Presentation of Joe Parrish cartoon to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Nashville, Tennessee
This primary source is a sepia-tone photograph of Congressman Joseph W. Byrns, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Tennessee Governor Hill McAlister riding in an open-air automobile through a large crowd of people. The upper left corner contains a cartoon featuring President Roosevelt promoting the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
Joseph (Joe) Parrish, a noted editorial cartoonist, began his career at the Nashville Tennessean and later retired in 1970 as chief editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune. This photograph was taken on November 17, 1934, when the Roosevelts visited multiple sites across Tennessee. Roosevelt often visited Tennessee throughout his four presidential terms. On this particular trip, the President and First Lady visited the Hermitage, James K. Polk’s Tomb, Fisk and Vanderbilt Universities, and Norris Dam.
This photograph and the inlaid cartoon are notable because they focus on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). This trip occurred only a year and a half after Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act into law. This act established an independent public organization that aided rural Tennesseans by controlling flooding, improving river navigation, assisting farmers, and providing affordable electricity to the previously underserved, rural Tennessee Valley. While the TVA brought profound changes to Tennessee, it did not operate without controversy. The organization’s use of eminent domain displaced more than 125,000 Tennesseans from their homes and property, and TVA hydroelectric projects flooded numerous cemeteries, historical settlements, and Native American sites. Despite these controversies, Franklin D. Roosevelt was generally well-liked in Tennessee because of his efforts to bring improvements to rural Tennesseans.
This source meets the 5.48, US.43, US.44, and TN.51 Tennessee social studies standards.
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